Robot Combat

BattleBots Season 1 Review: Episode 5

Battlebots season 5 flipping firey stinger
credit: battlebots facebook

All the best bits from BattleBots Season 1, Episode 5

Welcome to the Round of 8! With the field that once held 32 hopeful builders and a few too many flame bots now whittled down to the strongest robots this side of an apocalyptic future, we’re poised to see some of the most exciting action yet. Every remaining team will enter the arena, and only 4 will emerge to battle for the big ole’ giant nut in the finale.

Honestly, it couldn’t have played out any better if you drew it up yourself. Yes, the robots are great. The likes of Tombstone, Bronco, and – I can’t believe I’m saying this – Witch Doctor will not disappoint. But for me, it’s the personalities of the drivers that are still around that has me the most excited. Some of the best content from the early rounds is the interactions between the opposing teams. Bad boy Ray Billings emerged as a true villain in the sport. He’s brash, obnoxious, cocky, uncouth and has one of those punchable faces you just wanna punch a whole bunch.

He’s the perfect robot driver, and wields what appears to be an unstoppable force in Tombstone.

I’ll dig deeper into the individuals who’ve made this competition their bitch a little later. We’ve got a lot to cover and plenty of white space to do it in. Before we get too far into it, let’s take a look at what went down last week.

Bout 1: (9) Witch Doctor vs. (8) Overdrive
Winner: Witch Doctor. KO.
Hot Take: This is me with egg on my face.

Bout 2: (1) Tombstone vs. (16) Radioactive
Winner: Tombstone. KO.
Hot Take: Every story needs its villain. This one’s name is Ray.

Bout 3: (6) Lock-Jaw vs. (11) Overhaul (version 2.0)
Winner: Overhaul. KO.
Hot Take: Looks like the Lock-Jaw got itself lock jawed.

Bout 4: (3) Bite Force vs. (14) Hypershock
Winner: Bite Force. KO.
Hot Take: That knockout was weaker than my 8th grade rap album: Fuck Yo’ Sack Lunch.

That really was a weak rap album.

It’s important to keep in mind the state some of these robots have found themselves in. Yes, the drivers have a full night to wrench and repair any damage their bot might have suffered in the Bound of 16 match, but combine that with the punishment some of them went through in the opening round, and we could see some full blown robot breakdowns. Ghost Raptor comes to mind, who somehow won last week minus the only offensive weapon it had after losing it in round 1. Just something to keep on the back burner as we gear up for more robot on robot brutality.

As a quick side, if robots ever rise up and become smart and see how we used to fight them against each other gladiator style for our own amusement, we’re all fucked.

As a reminder, the number in parentheses is the team’s seed coming into the Round of 16. Let’s get on to the fights!

Bout 1: (4) Bronco vs. (5) Stinger

Stinger Captain: Mad Matt Maxham

BattleBots stinger2_team

I feel like we’ve been through so much with Mad Matt and his Mad wife, Wendy. They are definitely the most endearing team in the entire competition, and it warms my cold, black heart to see them come this far. Stinger has been a straight up beast, making easy work of Captain Shrederrator in qualifying, and even easier work of Warhead in the Round of 16. He’s still says he’s a plumber, but I’m going to go ahead and declare him an official BattleBots bad ass. Yes, I do have the power to declare such things.

But even a driver as mad as Matt Maxham shudders at the thought of facing off against Bronco. Stinger is fast and capable, but is going to have to avoid getting squared up and launched across the arena at all costs.

One flip could send the good plumber packing.

While the match against Warhead was decidedly one sided, Stinger took a bit of wheel damage that required a bit of repair before coming into tonight’s match. No Netflix and chill for Matt and Wendy last night. If Matt can work the arena, get up and into the side of Bronco, we could be seeing him and sweet Wendy in the semifinals.

Bronco Captain: Alexander Rose and Reason Bradley

BattleBots bronco_team

Aside from Tombstone, there’s been no more dominating robot in the field than Bronco. Its first two matches lasted a combined total of about 13 seconds. I barely had enough time to drop a shot of whisky in my beer before its opponents lay cold and dead on the steel arena floor. The quick KOs also means Bronco has taken little damage up to this point, and is in tip top ship shop shape going into tonights match. Bronco’s builders are all business, and check their personalities at the door in exchange for a pair of safety goggles and an industrial sized vat of uber focus.

Bronco’s strategy is simple: flip shit. Stinger is strong, low to the ground and quick, but one mistake and Bronco will be one step closer to giant nut glory.

Let’s battle some bots!!

Looks like Stinger’s got some modifications! Mad Matt wheels him out under cover only to reveal a couple new toys to throw at Bronco. Forks. Flames. Whistles. Yoyos. For you Chris Farley fans out there. Mad Matt is leaving no stops pulled out.

After a tentative start, Bronco gets in a glancing shot. Stinger doesn’t seem rattled, but also doesn’t seem to have much in the way of offensive opportunity in the early-going. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense! Bronco misses on a flip shot and propels itself up and onto the screws. It’s the first sign of weakness from the powerful bot, and a chance for Stinger to steal some points.

Bronco finds itself upside down after finding a way off the screws, but rights the ship with a comically self-flip that has it on it’s wheels again. Tricks up the sleeve, anyone?

After taking a couple of good shots from the Battle Box saw blades, Bronco moves in for its first legit blow of the match. Stinger is sent toppling end over end as sparks fly from Bronco’s broad side.

Down goes Stinger! Down goes Stinger! Bronco squares up the helpless plumber bot and sends him and his full-blast flamethrower spinning in a spectacle never before seen in the Battle Box. A second flip sends Stiner over the side rail and out of the competition. Bronco is just too much Bronco.

Like previous episodes, we see Mad Matt pounding like a crazy person against the plexiglass. This time, however, out pours the agony of defeat.

Winner: Bronco – KO
Hot Take: That Bronco would land one gnarly nut shot.

Bout 2: (1) Tombstone vs. (9) Witch Doctor

Tombstone Captain: Bad Boy Ray Billings

BattleBots tombstone_team

We know Ray all too well by now. I’ve ran off enough negative superlatives towards his diminutive personality to fill an open grave, so I’ll hold my tongue for now. Tombstone has had it easy so far, mowing through the competition like band saw through butter. That’s the saying, right? In his last fight, Ray toyed with poor Radioactive, who could do nothing more than mope around the arena before ole’ Stoney came around with a couple of massive, bot murdering kill shots.

“The being nice part is over.” So I guess playing the raging asshole, bot killing murder guy is being nice? Okay, Ray. I’ll bite.

Tombstone is looking to do what Tombstone does best: eviscerate anything that happens to get in its way. Witch Doctor does pose a legitimate threat with an effective spinner and a pesky yet mostly useless mini flame bot named Shaman. If Stoney can keep its blade straight, take out Shaman early and focus on the main kill, this one will be wrapped up quick.

Witch Doctor Captain: Andrea Suarez

BattleBots Witch Doctor Team

I spoke too soon! Mini bot Shaman wasn’t able to make the trip this time after suffering damage at the hands of Overdrive in the Round of 16. It’s a shame, too. I was really finding my insult groove with the little guy. Brief moment of silence….. aaaaaaand we’re back.

With Shaman sitting sideline, Witch Doctor is going to have to muster up some cahones and go right at Tombstone. There are no distractions or gimmicks or frills or bows. Which Doctor has proven it can take some abuse and keep ticking, so the best course of action might be to go right at the massive steel spinner and use it against Tombstone. Take a hit and try to go at Tombstone before that spinner gets back up to speed might be the ticket into the semi-finals.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Witch Doctor takes the hit! Tombstone goes in strong and give the good doctor it’s best right hook and winds up taking one on the chin itself. This is the first time we’ve seen a bot stand up to the bullies that are Ray Billings and Tombstone.

And Witch Doctor continues to be on offense! Tombstone flips around, chopping into the Battle Box floor before taking a second and third shot from Witch Doctor. Tombstone is sent flying into the side rail and is looking very much like the weaker bot up until this point. I can smell the shit in Ray Billings’ shorts from here.

Another big hit from WD! Tombstone collects itself as Ray realizes he’s in for the fight of his life. It looks like Witch Doctor’s spinner is no longer working, but it hasn’t mattered so far as the solid construction is holding up to hit after hit from that powerful blade.

In a crazy turn of events, Tombstone sends Witch Doctor toppling over and simultaneously shears its own blade in half! This would be the end for Ray Billings, only Witch Doctor is perched perfectly on it’s back with no way to right itself and continue the fight. After a tough fought match and a deserving spot in the semi-finals, Witch Doctor is going home having come this close to slaying Goliath. Luck was just not on the side of good today.

Winner: Tombstone – KO
Hot Take: It’s official. Ray Billings made a deal with the Devil. And no one is surprised.

Bout 3: (3) Bite Force vs. (11) Overhaul

Bite Force Captain: Paul Ventimiglia

BattleBots Bite-Force-Team

It’s not hard to see how Paul found himself in the quarter finals. He’s literally spent half his life touring the country entering robot fighting tournaments.

He’s the Fred Savage in The Wizard of the robot fighting circle. It make sense.

He started building when he was 13 years old and hasn’t let up over a decade later. This guy bleeds hydraulic fluid. At least I hope he does. He’s an experienced driver who’s made it into the round of 8 with a robot that does nothing out of the ordinary of flashy. Leave your blade spinners, pneumatic flippers, flame throwers and penis pumps at home folks. Bite Force wins with a little bit of skill and a whole lot of robot love.

It’s facing a very similar style of robot in Overhaul. Bite Force is just going to have to be the better driver – something it has excelled at in recent fights.

Overhaul Captain: MIT Nerd Factory

BattleBots overhaul_team

Not to be confused with C and C Music factory, this collection of technical school honor students have braved two matches in a row against legendary BattleBots driver, Donald Hutson. The enacted sweet revenge from a round one loss that included a bush league cheap shot after the buzzer.

The nerds were not pleased, and showed up with rage in their britches for the rematch.

Overhaul’s strategy is going to be the same as Bite Force’s: be the better driver. Use the Battle Box to your advantage and hope to outlast Bite Force for a decision win. I’d be coloring myself surprised if we see any kind of knock out save a blown motor or an unnatural act of robot God. Get in some punches when you can, don’t ever expose yourself, and see if you can’t get a hold of Bite Force for a little bite force of its own.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

An awkward “good luck, Charles” from Mr. Ventimiglia, followed by an even more awkward acknowledgment from team MIT, and we’re off.

After a dull opening Bite Force finally gets a hold of Overhaul and attempts the flip flop but comes up empty. So far, it looks like each bot doesn’t exactly know how to approach this fight – probably a result of the opponents being so similar.

“Push! Shove! Push! Shove!” Couldn’t have said it better than less-than-excited host Chris Rose. Bite Force seems to be the aggressor early, getting in a few pushes and a few shoves to fill up the scorecard. This one looks like it’s headed for a decision.

Overhaul gets slammed into the rail and almost loses all control. Bite Force continues to dominate, although little damage has been done to either bot thus far.

A massive lull in the action leads to Overhaul finally getting a hold of Bite Force, gripping it by the rubber tread and lifting it in the air like a greased up Austrian weight lifter! It’s the first signs of life from Overhaul, who only has about 20 seconds left in the fight to make an impression on the judges.

As time winds down, Overhaul almost gets Bite Force out of the ring. Will the late barrage be enough to eek a decision from the judges?

In a bit of grotesque over-production from the folks at ABC, the judges actually crawl into the Battle Box to more closely inspect the damage on the bots. Never mind the fact the visible damage could have well happened in the first two rounds. Judge Jessica Chobot even gets flat on the ground like she’s reading a putt to really get in there. This is me shaking my head.

After much deliberation and a dramatic long pause from our ring announcer, the winner is…..BITE FORCE BY A NOSE!

Winner: Bite Force – Close Decision
Hot Take: The suspense literally almost killed me.

Bout 4: (2) Icewave vs. (10) Ghost Raptor

Icewave Captain: Marc DeVidts

BattleBots Icewave-Team

Icewave coasted through the first two rounds, so it feels weird to say it’s a bot that’s flown somewhat under the radar. Driver Marc DeVidts is as calm and cool a customer you’ll find in this competition, and he never lets his middle American personality get in the way of his longing gaze into the shiny facets of the giant nut. He’s here to win the competition, not rack up the most on-air one liners (cough* Ray Billings cough*).

Since Icewave’s internal combustion driven twin blade spinner has been so effective up until this point, I don’t suspect Marc will change up his strategy much.

The robot has taken some abuse, but only on its own accord as those blades deliver such force, it can often work against the young driver. We say it almost end Tombstone’s season earlier in the evening. Icewave is going to hope to end this match quick and minimize the damage it does to itself.

Ghost Raptor Captain: Chuck Pitzer

BattleBots ghostraptor_team

Chaz Pitzer is playing with house money. He narrowly survived a first round fight that left his primary method of destruction nothing more than a sad little nub ripe for ridicule and belittlement from his peers. I don’t have to like Chuck Pitzer as a human being, but I sure do respect his skills. He managed to pull off a victory in the Round of 16 despite the embarrassing robot appendage, and finds himself in the quarter finals with another daunting task in front of him.

Chuck still hasn’t been able to repair Ghost Raptor’s blade, but that hasn’t sucked even an ounce of confidence out of him going in against Ice Wave. If he can use that powerful blade against his opponent, he could last just long enough to see Icewave make one or two fatal mistakes. Ghost Raptor still has a pretty decent flipping mechanism, which Chaz can use to finish Ice Wave off if that internal combustion motor externally combusts. Here’s to hoping.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

As Chuck rolls out Ghost Raptor we see he’s welded a goofy looking pitchfork like thing out front of his bot with the words “DE-ICER” written on it. Looks like a half-baked attempt to keep Icewave’s blade at bay. Let’s see if it pays off.

The DE-ICER has done it! Icewave went in for a kill shot and ended up killing itself. A direct his on Ghost Raptor sends Icewave flying at the hands of its own momentum, and without any real way to right the bot, all Marc DeVidts can do is watch as Chaz smiles like the Grinch he is.

A few cheap shots from Ghost Raptor as Icewave is getting counted out and this fight is over. By far the biggest upset of the tournament, and a disappointing end to Icewave’s championship run.

Winner: Ghost Raptor – KO
Hot take: Looks like we’ll have to suffer the insufferable Chuck Pitzer for one more round.


One more episode to go before the Giant Nut is claimed! Next round will feature the semifinals and championship match in the same bot-filled evening of festivities and fun. Stay tuned for the conclusion of BattleBots 2015!!


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